Mindfulness is the practice of intentionally paying attention in the present moment without judgment. Unlike meditation, it is not necessary to stay still in silence, rather, it can be applied to any mundane task of daily living… washing dishes, ironing clothes, childcare, eating, breathing, lovemaking, and sleep. It is about the quality of attention we bring to focus on any task we undertake. This simplest of actions demands soft, gentle fluidness in practice, steadfast precision and discipline in execution. Perhaps the simplest, yet toughest mental task… it requires that we slow down rambling thoughts and suspend the storylines narrating our lived experience. It’s about creating stillness in a world that no longer sleeps….
Just as computers left in sleep mode signal occasional blips of malfunction, so too, the consequences of living with divided attention carry hidden costs –spiraling anxiety, disrupted sleep, poor eating habits, emotional burnout. Just as turning off a computer can offer a vital reboot, so too, learning to quiet the mind –can afford an amazing respite from undue anxiety and despair. While not a stated goal, a lovely perk of regular mindfulness practice can lead to deep-felt relaxation. By restoring clarity in our thinking, ease in our body –we can embrace the complexity of life with greater audacity and at less personal cost to our wellbeing. With consistent practice in letting things rest, surrendering attachments to particular points of view or desired outcomes, we learn greater flexibility in coping with uncertainty.
In a global culture demanding so much dedicated attention to the acquisition of knowledge, mastery of details and facts –it is refreshing to create a renewed connection between our cranial intelligence and the body’s intuitive way of sensing and perceiving. With this restored relationship in body and mind, we can surrender our usual dependence on linear, causal thinking and discover different ways of understanding or interacting with the world. This shift in focus supports more creative problem solving and cultivates greater tolerance for tough things in life.
It’s a process of befriending oneself and restoring balance wherever it’s been eroded. Seeking freedom from unpleasant thoughts and undesired behaviors –is not about running away from them– it’s about staying in the fray of the discomfort, and altering our relationship to it. It’s about befriending our wayward ways and halting their control over us. It’s about placing trust in our intuitive wisdom and learning the different ways it commands our attention. It’s also about reclaiming our unique aliveness as we interface with the busyness of the world and learn the art of staying in balance. By slowing down our sense of urgency and reactivity to all demands on our attention, we learn to discriminate in which order to attend, and the manner of our attending. In short, we become wiser at how we do life, and less enchanted with the mind clutter accumulated along the way. By letting things rest as they are, and surrendering a desire to change them, we can experience enhanced well being and expanded moments of freedom. Ultimately, resting more easily in ourselves, we can hold greater compassion and lovingkindness for all living creatures.